The effect of intermittent fasting during Ramadan on sleep, sleepiness, cognitive function, and circadian rhythm
During the month of Ramadan intermittent fasting, Muslims eat exclusively between sunset and sunrise, which may affect nocturnal sleep. The effects of Ramadan on sleep and rectal temperature (Tre) were examined in eight healthy young male subjects who reported at the laboratory on four occasions: (i) baseline 15 days before Ramadan (BL); (ii) on the eleventh day of Ramadan (beginning of Ramadan, BR); (iii) on the twenty-fifth day of Ramadan (end of Ramadan, ER); and (iv) 2 weeks after Ramadan (AR). Although each session was preceded by an adaptation night, data from the first night were discarded. Polysomnography was taken on ambulatory 8-channel Oxford Medilog MR-9000 II recorders. Standard electroencephalogram (EEG), electro-oculogram (EOG) and electromyogram (EMG) recordings were scored visually with the PhiTools ERA. The main finding of the study was that during Ramadan sleep latency is increased and sleep architecture modified. Sleep period time and total sleep time decreased in BR and ER. The proportion of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep increased during Ramadan and its structure changed, with an increase in stage 2 proportion and a decrease in slow wave sleep (SWS) duration. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep duration and proportion decreased during Ramadan. These changes in sleep parameters were associated with a delay in the occurrence of the acrophase of Tre and an increase in nocturnal Tre during Ramadan. However, the 24-h mean value (mesor) of Tre did not vary. The nocturnal elevation of Tre was related to a 2-3-h delay in the acrophase of the circadian rhythm. The amplitude of the circadian rhythm of Tre was decreased during Ramadan. The effects of Ramadan fasting on nocturnal sleep, with an increase in sleep latency and a decrease in SWS and REM sleep, and changes in Tre, were attributed to the inversion of drinking and meal schedule, rather than to an altered energy intake which was preserved in this study.